America Family Travel LA to Chi-Town Travels Utah

LA to Chi-Town Part 1: How I Learned to Love Diarrhea in Las Vegas and Altitude Sickness in Utah

Brian Head Utah

Goal: Find somewhere to sleep in Utah

We started back home on day 7 of our 11-day cross-country excursion. The plan was to camp two nights at Fishlake National Forest in Utah, then camp one night just outside Denver, and play it by ear in Nebraska, before returning to good old Illinois. Well, you know what they say…

“The best laid plans of mice and men” and families on road trips “often go awry.”

Brian Head Utah
Brian Head Peak, Brian Head, UT

By day 7 I think we had a little too much road food and the two boys (one 44-year-old and one 6-year-old) started having tummy troubles. My poor little boy went through several pairs of undies before leaving an indelible impression in a McDonald’s restroom in Las Vegas. You would think that, as travelers, we would have a multitude of pictures of this interesting American destination (Las Vegas, not McDonald’s), but we spent our time looking for potties as we passed through, feigning some oohs and aahs at the plastic recreations all over town. (Don’t get me started on my feelings about Las Vegas. They are not positive. We’ll leave it there.)

Anyway, after surrendering yet another pair of kid undies to the diarrhea gods, we got the heck out of Dodge.

Continuing on our way northeastward, we happened upon a lovely rest stop in Utah. Seriously, this rest stop was perfect for conjuring the fantastic adventures you are sure to have as you pass through Utah. Seriously. But I can’t remember what it was called. Anyway, we fell in love with this rest stop so much that we decided we should just get a room at the Holiday Inn across the street. Unfortunately, there were no rooms available.

So we searched Expedia for nearby places to stay. We checked out several hotels before happening on the perfect spot for us – The Grand Lodge at Brian Head.
First off, Brian Head is billed as the “Highest Resort Town” in the U.S., sitting at 9,800 feet at its base and 11,300 feet at the peak. Who knew? We had never heard of this place before. We just knew, thanks to the internet, that there was a lovely lodge there with an affordable overnight price.

Brian head peak utah

It was so affordable because it was off-season, as it is a ski-resort town and we were visiting in the middle of the summer. We even got upgraded to a beautiful 1-bedroom suite because they had quite a bit of availability. Our stay there was so lovely, we decided to book a second night.

We couldn’t figure out, however, why we were feeling so run-down and tired. I thought I was just hungry, or maybe just exhausted from the trip. Talking to the waitress in the lodge restaurant, we figured out that we were suffering from altitude sickness! But that didn’t stop us from exploring the area. After a nap, of course.

Unfortunately, some of the activities (ski-lift, rock climbing wall, kids’ trampoline and toboggan track) were only open on the weekends, as this was the off season, so we didn’t get to enjoy these adventures. But we did get to do some hiking.


We made it up to the 11,300-foot peak (with the help of our car) and also hiked a trail that took us to actual snow on the mountaintop in the middle of July!

It was all worth it when I heard this little guy say, “Life is awesome!”


We loved Brian Head so much that we were considering investing in a condo there. It hasn’t happened yet, but we’ll see!

LA to Chi-Town Part 1 Goal: Accomplished

Janette DeFelice, MD, MA is a writer currently focusing on how the changing environment affects our health. Her essay collection Resistance Essays from the Heartland and her new novel Delia Rising: A Ballet in Three Acts are both available now. She has also published at Be The Change Mom, ChicagoNow, and She holds a Doctor of Medicine degree from Chicago Medical School and a Master’s degree in Humanities from the University of Chicago, where her major essay was Hegel and Ibsen: The Evolution of Consciousness in Ibsen’s Prose Play Cycle. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Indiana University. A former professional dancer, former adjunct Humanities professor, and former lecturer in Medical Clinical Skills, as well as a mom of 9-year-old twins, she currently finds herself at a career/life crossroads at which she is trying to figure out how to use all aspects of herself (her art, her medical and scientific knowledge, her philosophical explorations, her interest in popular culture as a teaching tool, and her unique perspective) for the good of humanity.

6 comments on “LA to Chi-Town Part 1: How I Learned to Love Diarrhea in Las Vegas and Altitude Sickness in Utah

  1. Haha, great post. Love your writing style! I was forced to embrace diarrhea during my trip in Indonesia. Oh joy.


  2. Amazing pictures!


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